NEW BUFFALO — It was budget night for the New Buffalo Area Schools Board of Education on Monday, June 22.

Business Manager Pano Arvanitis led a review of 2019-2020 budget amendments (later accepted by the board) which include General Fund revenue of $15,851,682 (most from property taxes)  and expenditures of $16,210,156.

He said the fund balance started at $4,730,503 and will ends  at an estimated $4,372,029 (31.31 percent).

Arvanitis said a 19.5741 mill property tax rate was renewed for five years in March by district voters (although 18 mills will be levied to generate an estimated $12,664,091 — or 81 percent of district revenues).

The proposed 2020-2021 budget projects General Fund revenues of $15,552,737 and expenditures of $16,442,833, leaving a projected deficit of $890,096 for an estimated fund balance in June 2021 of $3.44 million (23.37 percent).

Arvanitis said the district won’t know what it’s LRSB revenues will be until August, adding that he made an educated guess that there will be a $750,000 decrease in the next school year (roughly half of the $1.5 million received in the current year).

Although he’s recommending that the contribution to the scholarship fund be reduced this year, Arvanitis said the Educational Trust Fund has a healthy balance (over $5 million at the end of this year, with the total approximately $4.76 million at the end of 2020-2021).

Arvanitis said he’s hoping the LRSB numbers will be better and the state and federal governments will provide some one-time help.

Board President Chuck Heit said the district is fortunate to receive much of its funding from second homes with cuts likely to be made by the state.

Board member Trish Newton gave credit to “the boards before us” for helping the district build up a healthy fund equity ahead of the current “rainy day.”

Arvanitis thanked “everybody for all their support” in his first year of preparing the budget (which was approved 6-0 by the board).

Also on June 22, Superintendent Dr. Jeff Leslie said the district’s meal pick-ups that have been conducted since mid-March are scheduled to end on Monday, June 29.

“We’re going to pass the baton over to the Water’s Edge Church (and) their Bridge the Gap program,” which he said will do meal pick-ups five days a week at numerous pick-up points.

According to an attachment linked to the Water’s Edge Facebook page, the Bridge the Gap summer food ministry will offer breakfast and lunch to children ages 0-18 from July 1 to Aug. 21 (Monday through Friday) from 11:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at Waters Edge Church; 11:30 a.m. to noon at New Buffalo High School and New Buffalo Elementary School, and from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m. at Oakview Apartments and Judy’s Motel.   

Heit thanked Food Service Director Patty Iazzetto and her staff for all the work they did during the closure period.

Leslie also sent his condolences to the family of The Pokagon Fund’s John Krsul (who passed away on June 11).

“I really loved working with John. He was just a great guy … a great listener.”

Heit said Krsul cared about the community and was “one of the smartest people” he’s worked with.

In other June 22 business, the New Buffalo Area Schools Board of Education:

• Approved the employment of Molly Sell as an elementary art teacher, pending background approval. Elementary Principal Adam Bowen said Sell shined in the interview process and has a lot of great ideas. Sells aid she is “really looking forward to being a part of this community.”

• Accepted a Pokagon Fund grant of $2,000 to be used for Class of 2020 graduation expenses. Leslie said he is hoping the July 24 commencement ceremony can be a special experience for a group of seniors who missed out on events like prom and awards ceremonies.

• Board member Lisa Werner reported that candidates for the position of middle school principal were slated to be interviewed on June 25.

• Agreed to switch over to the Skyward software package at a cost not to exceed $45,000.

• Authorized Mary Cooper to submit a $2,900 grant application to The Pokagon Fund for middle school classroom libraries and Kindle readers.

• Set student lunch prices for 2020-2021 as follows (the same rates as 2019-2020): Elementary - $2.70; Middle School - $2.95; High School - $2.95.

• Approved having Knoll Bros Oil Co. supply fuel products for 2020-2021.

• Adopted a resolution committing to the goals of the Reading Now Network.

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